Loughnane sets the tone for rampant Gaels
O'Loughlin Gaels easily qualified for the semi-finals when they proved much too strong for Laois champions Rathdowney-Errill in O'Moore Park yesterday.
Just a week after claiming the Kilkenny title, O'Loughlin Gaels showed few ill-effects of the short turnaround as they got off to a great start with a Danny Loughnane goal after 30 seconds.
Loughnane nipped in front of Noel Brennan to flick a Niall McEvoy shot to the net and it was a hammer-blow that Rathdowney never recovered from.
With the impressive Mark Bergin pulling the strings from centre-forward, O'Loughlin Gaels tore the home side apart in the opening half. Bergin finished with 1-6 to his name and was central to most of their good play.
Martin Comerford hit two points in quick succession to extend O'Loughlin's lead and although the outstanding John Purcell -- who finished with seven points from play -- pointed twice, O'Loughlin Gaels took control again.
Bergin hit three points in a row while McEvoy, Brian Dowling and Loughnane also pointed before Bergin set up Dowling for the Gaels' second goal.
Eoin Holohan and Alan Delaney responded for Rathdowney-Errill, but the tie was as good as over as the Kilkenny side took a 2-10 to 0-6 lead into the break.
A brilliantly taken Bergin goal seven minutes after the restart pushed Gaels further in front and when Rathdowney's Alan Delaney picked up a second yellow three minutes later, there was no way back.
Purcell did his best to make a match of it with a succession of fine points, but it wasn't nearly enough as Gaels qualified for a semi-final meeting with Dublin champions Ballyboden St Enda's in two weeks' time.
SCORERS - O'Loughlin Gaels: M Bergin 1-6 (0-2f), B Dowling 1-2, D Loughnane 1-1, N McEvoy, M Comerford, A Geoghegan 0-2 each, P Dowling 0-1; Rathdowney-Errill: J Purcell 0-7, E Holohan 0-4, A Delaney 0-3 (0-2f, 0-1 '65).
O'LOUGHLIN GAELS -- S Murphy; B Kelly, A Kearns, E Kearns; A O'Brien, B Hogan, N Bergin; P Dowling, S Cummins; N McEvoy, M Bergin, A Geoghegan; B Dowling, M Comerford, D Loughnane. Subs: J Nolan for Loughnane (h-t), B Murphy for Kelly (42), E Grant for Hogan (60).
RATHDOWNEY-ERRILL -- N Brennan; B Campion, L Mahon, E Fitzpatrick, P Mahon, J Fitzpatrick; S Dollard, J Corrigan; A Delaney, J Purcell, E Meagher; E Holohan, L Tynan, J Phelan. Subs: P Purcell for J Phelan (42), N Delaney for Corrigan (50), E O'Neill for Meagher (51).
Ref -- B Gavin (Offaly).